Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm, they’ve set out to expand the Star Wars universe like never before, using the Marvel, everything-is-connected philosophy. Star Wars Rebels was the first big piece to be unveiled, and though it is obviously aimed at a younger audience, it’s being used for more than just eye candy. The things we see and the stories that unfold here will echo throughout the revamped franchise, and it is also, set between the prequels and the original trilogy, obviously keyed into the history and larger mythology. One way they show this is by bringing in familiar faces, and another big one is going to show up soon: a little guy named Yoda.
Okay, maybe the phrase “show up” is the wrong choice, as you aren’t really going to see the diminutive Jedi master in the episode titled “Path of the Jedi.” You will, however, hear his iconic voice, and it will be the actual voice you know and love. Much like how James Earl Jones lent his booming voice to Rebels when Darth Vader made an appearance, Frank Oz, who voiced Yoda, will be back for this go round.
Rebels takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, during time when the Empire is tightening its grip on the galaxy, when the Jedi have been outlawed by Order 66 and hunted to near extinction. As a result, the remnants are scattered in obscure places. That’s why Kanan is hiding out on the backwater planet Lothal with his padewan Ezra and the rest of their crew. Yoda is lurking on Dagobah, the swampy planet where he trains Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, which is the reason for the voice only cameo.
Talking to TV Guide, executive producer Dave Filoni, who also directs this episode, says, “I felt personally to keep Yoda as this disembodied thing it would confuse the audience less. I didn’t want you to think Yoda could be teleporting from planet to planet.” Plus he’s 800-years-old, and after about 750 interplanetary travel isn’t as easy as it once was.
Talking about Oz, Filoni adds, “What’s great about Frank, by keeping the voice very present and active, you do feel that it’s a watchfulness and that he’s speaking to you from afar.”
But Yoda’s presence isn’t the only thing Star Wars fans have to look forward in this episode, as Filoni promises there will be nods to Empire, as well as the last episodes of The Clone Wars, which he also worked on. He says, “This is show is meant to fit in with everything that’s going on: Clone Wars, features, novels. We do a lot of work to make sure there’s continuity between these things now.”
“Path of the Jedi” airs Monday, January 5 on Disney XD, though those of you using the Watch Disney XD app can watch it starting Monday, December 29.